NYS adopts black bear management plan

The state Department of Environmental Conservation has adopted a 10-year black bear management plan, DEC Commissioner Joe Martens announced recently.  

The plan outlines the principles and methods used to monitor and manage black bear populations in New York and provides strategic guidance for the DEC’s activities. The plan includes several proposed hunting rule changes.

“After careful consideration of thousands of public comments, the strategies outlined in the Black Bear Management Plan seek to achieve and maintain bear population levels that are acceptable to the public while providing sustainable opportunity for New York’s big game hunters,” Martens said. “The plan also addresses public partnerships to reduce human-bear conflicts.”

The final Black Bear Management Plan for New York state, 2014-2024 is available at dec.ny.gov/animals/7215.html.  

Key elements of the final plan include the scientific monitoring of bear populations; continued use of stakeholders to assess bear impacts and identify population trend objectives; recommendations to expand areas open to bear hunting throughout Upstate New York and to increase hunting opportunities in portions of southeastern New York. 

The plan emphasizes DEC’s integrated approach to reduce negative black bear impacts by increasing public awareness of its role in preventing human-bear conflicts, by addressing individual incidents of bear damage, and by reducing bear populations where necessary.

Public comments on the draft bear plan were carefully reviewed by DEC, and a summary and assessment of the public comment is also available at dec.ny.gov/animals/7215.html.  

Based on the input received, DEC made several revisions to the plan, including:

  • adding more detail about the extensive public interaction that was used to develop the plan and opportunities for future public input about bear impacts and objectives;
  • reiterating emphasis on public education and outreach as one part of an integrated approach to reduce human-bear conflicts;
  • describing DEC’s collaboration with professional bear managers and researchers from other jurisdictions; and
  • clarifying that DEC plans to assess the tradeoffs and implications of use of dogs, bait or live capture cable-restraints for taking bears, though none of these measures are currently being proposed for use in New York at this time.

To begin implementing the new bear plan, DEC proposed rule changes that would establish bear hunting seasons in all of Upstate New York, create a supplemental early firearms season for bears in the Catskills and Western Hudson Valley area, and provide a uniform start for bowhunting and early bear seasons in the Northern Zone.

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